Trending News Today: State Proposes Huge Funding Cuts for Public Health Programs

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Aetna entered into accelerated buyback agreements with 2 dealers for approximately 10.4 million shares from each, according to The New York Times. Last week, the health insurer’s board authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $4 billion worth of Aetna’s stock. The company also said it was doubling the quarterly dividend it pays stock owners to 50 cents per share, the NY Times reported. Aetna will pay each dealer $1.65 billion, and is using available cash to fund the deals.

The second Theranos Inc laboratory based in Arizona had its blood testing license revoked. According to The Wall Street Journal, the lab put patients at risk by failing to quickly fix its deficiencies. The finding triggered a new round of sanctions last month against the company. CMS has imposed the most serious sanctions on the lab, revoking its testing license, barring it from billing Medicare, and ordering it to alert customers to its problems. Theranos can appeal these penalties, the WSJ reported.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo has proposed to cut $25 million in funding to programs that fight cancer, diabetes, and other public health issues. According to The New York Times, critics fear the cutbacks in the governor’s $152 budget proposal represent a reversal of his efforts last summer to make cancer screenings a key issue. Cuomo had signed legislation ordering hospitals to expand hours when mammograms are offered and required insurance companies to eliminate deductibles and co-payments for the screening and other diagnostic tests. Additionally, Cuomo approved $16 million in annual funding to breast cancer screenings, which would be affected by these proposed cuts, the NY Times reported. Public health advocates and lawmakers said they are opposed to proposed funding cuts that support cervical and colorectal cancer screenings, as well.